For the start of the new campaign, Senior Coach Tim Robinson, had several players making their home debuts in this vital first league match against old rivals Mansfield.
Guy Mychaijluk and Nick Dyson were making first starts in the pack whilst it was the first sighting for the home crowd of young threequarters Howard Bishop and Tom Barker. Al Fagan was back after his seasons’ flirtation with Hull Ionians and Gavin Drury was released from his Army duties to play for the senior side following several years away.
It was a bit of a nervous start with mistakes from both sides as the referee imposed himself whilst interpreting the new scrummage and break-down laws. Mansfield had the first opportunity to take the lead but Lee Shaw missed his penalty strike after 4 minutes. After 6 minutes, Scunthorpe attempted to run the ball out of defence and with Tom Foster about to stretch his legs, the ball fell from his grasp and was gratefully recovered by Mansfield’s Alan Symcox who strolled in under the posts unopposed and Lee Shaw added the extras.
Ash Dibden taking the role of first choice kicker for the first time also missed a long-range effort for the home boys after 9 minutes. The Greens then had an opportunity after 14 minutes with the Mansfield scrum-half going to the sin-bin for foul play and from the resulting penalty, the Home pack powered over for Jake Barron to touchdown. Dibden added the conversion to level the scores at 7 apiece.
The two contrasting styles of play was starting to emerge as the home boys opted for a quick expansive game, whilst the Nottinghamshire boys were content to keep things tight and drive the ball through their forwards at the breakdown.
Adventure was The Greens undoing when Rewiti Viamoso took a quick throw-in on his own line directing the ball to Chris Neal in mid-field, only for the full-back to knock-on and thereby give Mansfield a great attacking platform. Mansfield No. 8 Ben Holmes and his pack recycled the ball many times before Scrum-half Adam Shaw redeemed himself by diving through the gap for a try. Brother Lee missed the conversion but Mansfield took the lead once more at 12 points to 7 after 28 minutes of play.
The Home boys always looked dangerous as they moved the ball out wide and after a great injection of pace from home fullback Chris Neal, debutant Howard Bishop took the final pass to score. Dibden missed the conversion but the home boys were now showing lots of confidence and a mid-field break by Dibden was carried on by Oli Wood and when he was stopped just short of the line, Tom Foster was on hand to cross under the posts. Dibden converted to give Scunthorpe a half-time advantage by 19 points to 12.
The second half started in the worse possible way for the home side when Gareth Mist was sin-binned after only two minutes of play. Mansfield kept The Greens penned in their own ‘22’ until they came away with a second try for powerful centre Symcox. Lee Shaw added the extras and the teams were once more level.
Eventually back up to full strength, the home boys were again on the attack and when Chris Neal followed a clever grubber kick by Tom Foster and won the race to the ball for Dibden to add the extras. The Greens had once more re-taken the lead at 26 points to 19. Try as they might, Scunthorpe were unable to shake off the Mansfield boys and after 31 minutes they struck with another score by Symcox for his hat-trick which Shaw converted to put them level once more at 26 points each.
The drama increased when Shaw converted a penalty on 35 minutes to give Mansfield the lead at 29 points to 26 only for Dibden to level at 29 all two minutes later.
Both sets of supporters were living on frayed nerves as the final minutes ticked by. It was however, the home team that kept their composure and following a series of re-cycles the ball went right where Gareth Mist facing the wrong way flicked the ball through his legs to give just enough room for debutant Tom Barker to show his pace as he beat visiting fullback Wayne Robinson to touch-down under the posts giving Dibden an easy conversion for the last kick of the match and victory by 36 points to 29.
An excellent match played in good spirit before an enthusiastic crowd where both side came away with points and although Mansfield lost the game they do take with them two points for having scored 4 tries and also for finishing within 7 points of the winners. Scunthorpe also gained a bonus point for their efforts in scoring four or more tries.
Next week The Greens step into the unknown when they face last season relegated team from National 2 North, Nuneaton. Scunthorpe last played them when both teams were at level 4, ten years ago. ‘The Nuns’ have had a good start to their campaign with a win at Longton.